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10 magical cities like Venice with canals and history

Love Venice? Here are 10 more canal cities that deserve a place on your travel bucket list.

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A boat going under a bridge in Venice.

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The Grand Canal of Venice needs no introduction. People flock from around the world to cruise the Italian waterway and explore the picturesque backstreets that form a maze nearby. But this Italian city isn't the only place in the world with picturesque canals, breathtaking architecture and historical sites.


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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Fondly known as the "Venice of the North", the capital of the Netherlands is one of the most unique destinations on earth. It boasts picturesque canals, 17th-century buildings and a rich cultural scene.

Cycling is a way of life here and, quite frankly, is the best way to explore the city’s many charming neighbourhoods, museums and art exhibitions.

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Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is a city of contrasts. While the city itself is loud and fast-paced, its network of canals and serene shrines offer a peaceful getaway.

A sprawling metropolis, it's famed for delicious street food, ornate temples and more shopping options than you can explore in a lifetime. The food is bold, the locals are friendly and the shopping is dirt cheap by Australian standards.

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Suzhou, China

Where Amsterdam is the Venice of the North, Suzhou is the Venice of the East. It feels like heaven on earth with its beautiful ancient towns, landscaped gardens and historical canals. Explore the water towns, teahouses and make a trip to one of the 60 classical gardens. Suzhou is a 30-40 minute bullet train ride from Shanghai.

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Bruges, Belgium

Be mesmerised by Bruges’ dreamy canals, cobblestoned streets and medieval buildings. The town has the setting right out of a fairytale: soaring bell towers and horse-drawn carriages. Explore the city on foot to best take in the architecture. When you tire, make your way to the picturesque courtyard and watch the world go by. Bruges is an hour train ride from the country's capital, Brussels.

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St Petersburg, Russia

This Russian port city is the country's cultural centre. From the masterpieces in the world-famous Hermitage to watching classical ballet, St Petersburg is an artistic powerhouse. As you cruise down the canals or crossing the many bridges over them throughout the city, the sights and sounds of this metropolis never fail to amaze.

  • Best canal tour: St Petersburg Private Canal and River Cruise. A three-hour sightseeing tour through some of the most historical parts of the city by boat which sails past palaces and the city's bridges.
  • Other things to see and do: Visit The Hermitage, Faberge Museum, Peter and Paul Cathedral, [provider_linkid="370" title="Catherine Palace" external="https://www.expedia.com.au/things-to-do/catherine-palace-pavlovsk-great-palace-park-tour-with-lunch.a291693.activity-details"] and attend the Russian ballet.
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Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden is home to much more than meatballs and do-it-yourself furniture. Its capital, Stockholm, spreads out over 14 islands, and offers grand buildings, palaces and museums proudly telling its 700-year-old history. Hit up the many fine cafes and get a taste of Swedish high fashion in the many designer boutiques. This city is as easy to explore as it is to fall in love with.

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Ganvie, Benin

The city of Ganvie is the largest lake city in Africa. With a population of about 20,000 living on houses built on stilts, this unique village is known as the Venice of Africa. Popular with tourists, Ganvie is only accessible by boat, far from chaotic traffic and crowded markets. The village is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Best canal tour: You can organise a tour on the water when you arrive. Otherwise, tours are often included on larger trips suchas a this A Taste of West Africa tour.
  • Other top things to see and do: Visit the floating market, See how the locals live their everyday life, Tour the village via its network of canals
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Annecy, France

The beautiful alpine town of Annecy has romance written all over its castles, cathedrals, and pastel coloured houses. Get away from it all and take in the surroundings - mountain-fringed lakes and winding canals - as you hang out on pavement cafes. This is one of the most beautiful places in Europe for architecture, history and culture. Annecy is a popular day trip from Geneva, which is a 45-minute drive away.

  • Best canal tour: Annecy Half-Day Tour. Visit Annecy's main attractions includings its canals, colourful buildings and picturesque lake.
  • Other top things to see and do: Cycle or paddle across Lake Annecy, taste the local cheese and wine, cross the Lovers’ Bridge and visit Palais de l’Isle.
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Kerala, India

Explore the scenic backwaters of Kerala in a houseboat for a relaxing and tranquil experience. The large network of canals is a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Tourists flock to Alleppey for a sip of the delicious rice wine, palm-fringed waterways and popular annual snake boat race.

  • Best canal tour: Classic South India tour. Sleep in a boathouse and discover the beauty of the backwaters of Alleppey.
  • Top five must see and do: Snake boat races, stay in a houseboat, tour the hidden lanes of Alleppey, check out the driftwood museum and visit the village of Karumadi.
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Tigre, Argentina

Located 28km north of Buenos Aires, Tigre is a unique suburb within a watery world of islands. A boat ride into the delta makes for a great getaway from the hustle of the city. The port is where you will find some of the best open markets in the world, selling everything from furniture to delicious fruits.

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